Swine Flu "Don'ts"

Prevent the spread of this potentially deadly virus.

Peter Bernard


September 8, 2009


Last Spring's swine flu scare caught many Americans by surprise. When it became clear that the virus was spreading slowly and was not as aggressive as originally thought, many dropped their guard.

Which is not a good idea for the 2009-2010 flu season, according to experts at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Here are six DON'TS to help you avoid getting and spreading swine flu:

1. DON'T rely on the seasonal flu vaccine to protect you from the swine flu. Health officials recommend an annual seasonal swine flu vaccine for most everyone, especially children, seniors and people with compromised immune systems. This year is no different, except to note that the seasonal flu vaccine will not prevent the transmission and spread of the swine flu.

2. DON'T rely on face masks and/or respirators alone to prevent yourself from getting or spreading swine flu. The effectiveness of face masks and respirators for preventing the spread of swine flu has not been proven. However, masks should be "considered" for high risk groups if swine flu is in the community, as well as for caregivers for people with influenza-like symptoms.

3. DON'T attend "swine flu parties!" Swine flu parties are gatherings where people have close contact with a person who has swine flu in order to become infected with the virus, with the intent of becoming infected in the hope of having natural immunity to the swine flu virus. The CDC does not recommend this course of action. While the disease seen in the current swine flu outbreak has been mild for many people, it has been severe and even fatal for others. There is no way to predict with certainty what the outcome will be for an individual or, equally important for others to whom the intentionally infected person may spread the virus.

4. DON'T go outside. Those with swine flu are advised to avoid contact with others as much as possible. If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever has gone. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.) Stay away from others as much as possible to keep from making others sick.

5. DON'T send your children to school or go to work yourself if you think you have swine flu. Schools and business are going to strive to remain open even if the pandemic worsens, so the emphasis on containing the swine flu is on sick adults and children to stay home until they recover.

6. DON'T forget to clean up. Influenza viruses can remain infections on flat surfaces for two to eight hours. This includes most things humans touch, including table tops, desk tops, toys, dishes, eating utensils and door knobs. Regular cleaning of these surfaces with disinfectant spray or wipes can prevent the spread of the flu in house or workplace.